Toronto Mayor Rob Ford awaits crucial court ruling
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:57PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013 8:55PM EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may have spent his final day in office Thursday, as he awaits a ruling from a three-judge panel on his appeal of a decision that found he had violated municipal conflict-of-interest rules.
The verdict in his appeal of that decision is due Friday at around 10:30 a.m. If the judges dismiss his appeal, Ford will have to immediately vacate the mayor’s office.
Ford briefly addressed reporters Thursday, sayinghe’s “looking forward” to the verdict.
“I believe in the judicial system and I hope for the best,” he said.
The appeal stems from a decision last November when Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland found Ford violated the rules when he participated in a council debate and voted on his use of office letterhead to solicit donations for a private football foundation.
Hackland ordered him out of office. But Ford was granted a stay of the order pending his appeal, which was heard earlier this month.
If Ford wins his appeal, he will remain mayor and it will continue to be business as usual.
If he loses, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday would step into the role. City council would then have 60 days to decide whether to appoint an interim mayor to serve until the next municipal election in October 2014, or call a byelection to allow Torontonians to choose a new mayor.
Council has the option to re-appoint Ford as mayor, if a byelection is not called.
But Coun. Janet Davis said she’s not willing to entertain that idea.
“To ignore a court of appeal decision is also a very serious thing so I will not support re-appointing the mayor,” she told reporters.
Coun. Gord Perks said the city needs a “new sense of direction and purpose and the only way we can get that is with a byelection.”
Others warned against assuming Ford will be ousted on Friday.
“Don’t write him off so early and so quickly,” Coun. Norm Kelly said.
Ford has said that he will be the first to put his name on a ballot if council decides to call a byelection.
“I’m going to keep fighting for taxpayers,” he told reporters, after his appeal was heard on Jan. 7.
If a byelection is called, it would likely be held in late spring or early summer, at a cost of cost at least $7 million.
Councillors were divided
Toronto-based municipal lawyer John Mascarin says he doesn’t believe that Justice Hackland’s made any errors in law in his November ruling – which is precisely what the panel is being asked to decide.
“I think it was correct in law, I think it interpreted prior case law properly. So I didn’t see anything in the appeal that would overturn it,” he told CTV News Channel Thursday. “Personally, I think his decision was correct and I think it will be upheld tomorrow.”
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson